When photographing children it is important to follow a few basic rules in order to get really great photographs. Some of these tips may be a little technical and some very basic. A few only apply to a DSLR cameras and some tips will work even when using your cell phone to take photos.
Either way, if using a camera or your cell phone I think you will find a tip or two that will help you photograph children in a way that will lead to better photos.
The first thing we have to realize is, we are much taller than our children and we look down at them everyday. I don’t mean look down in a negative way, they’re just little and we’re much taller.
Now that we have established that we are big and they are little try changing your perspective. Try getting down real low and take photos on their level. Taking pictures from a low angel shows us how things look in their world and can be very engaging. This tip works with any camera including cell phones (and may be easier with a cell phone since it is smaller and lighter) so get low.
My next tip is for DSLR camera users or very advanced cell phone users. Make sure you are using a very fast shutter speed. I try to shoot at a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second when photographing children outdoors. This is because kids, and especially toddlers, are always on the move. A fast shutter speed will help you get sharp photos once they start moving (which is always, right?).
When I photograph children I like to keep my subject in focus and create a super soft out of focus background. This effect is called bokeh. This is an effect both cell phone users and DSLR camera users can create.
To create this with your cell phone iPhone users can use a camera setting called Portrait Mode. Android users may be able to use a feature called Lens Blur. This creates an out of focus background while keeping the subject in focus. Keep in mind, the subject needs to remain still for the photo.
DSLR camera users can create this effect by setting their camera to the lowest aperture the lens can shoot at. This may be f/2.8 or similar. The lower the number the better for this effect. You’ll also need some distance between your subject and the background for it to fall out of focus. If the background remains clear at your lowest lens aperture then increase the distance from the background if possible.
When I am photographing children I always try to keep the eyes in super sharp focus. If any other part of the face is slightly out of focus people don’t tend to mind, but they will always notice the eyes. Always try to have your camera focus on the eye closest to the camera.
When you photograph children it is always engaging to capture images of them just having fun. The natural smile of a child playing can be spotted by a parent every time. When children are told to smile, most times it just doesn’t look the same. Capture a natural smile whenever possible.
Once you’ve mastered these techniques then go ahead and break a few of the rules. Try taking a photo from directly above your child looking down, but remember to keep the eyes in focus. Take pictures form far away. Get close up. Most importantly, have fun. If your child senses you are relaxed and having fun they will too. This leads to more genuine smiles and better images when you photograph children.